FanDuel - WFBC

December 29, 2004

Half-Brained: The Green Bay Packers have been breaking the U.S. Flag Code by lowering flags to half-staff for Reggie White and other team figures. By tradition, only Memorial Day and "principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State" rate the treatment.

posted by rcade to football at 01:47 PM - 47 comments

I see no problem with this. of course im canadian, and i've experienced 'up in arms' neighbors complain to my parents that the Maple Leaf we flew on our house wasn't smaller than the Stars & Stripes we flew. But to remain focused, half-staff should be the decision of the pole owner, right?

posted by garfield at 02:09 PM on December 29

"There is not a veteran who would approve of that at all and I couldn't believe it." - Tom "Tinker" Robinson as quoted in the article. I'm just guessing, but I imagine I could find one or two veterans who would have no problem with what the Packers are doing. And what are they doing exactly? They're honoring someone. In honoring Reggie White they do nothing to diminish the same honor bestowed on others. At least that's the way I see it.

posted by 86 at 02:21 PM on December 29

Uhm, does anyone ever respect that rule? Christ, I think the Mason-Dixon line shifted 10 toward the equator when Dale Ernhardt died. That's stupid. I bought the flag, I'll damn well honor whomever I care to with it. Did Reggie ever vote? If so, I consider him a "[principal] figure of the United States Government".

posted by yerfatma at 02:32 PM on December 29

The established code limits half-staff treatment to the deaths of prominent national public figures like Ronald Reagan. The Packers mean well, but as I listen to caller after caller on Sporting News defend this move by touting White's good works, I think they are contributing to memorial deflation. If we're going to lower our flags for linemen who did a little public service, the next thing you know we'll be doing it for cherished schoolteachers, beloved disc jockeys, state comptrollers, long-time newsletter editors, and perhaps even community weblog founders. Nobody wants that. We'll reach a point where you elbow a friend and say, "Hey, the flag's at full staff today!"

posted by rcade at 02:34 PM on December 29

imo, whoever captures the public's attention (could further qualify, but you get my drift) could warrant this type of memorial. besides, its not a national half-staff, just local.

posted by garfield at 02:43 PM on December 29

I'm offering full-staff treatment for half-off during the Holidays. I get the devaluation issue, but it's not like flags are at half-mast nationwide; aren't localized tributes like this fairly common?

posted by yerfatma at 02:53 PM on December 29

I don't really think it's devaluing anything since is only going on in a really small place instead of being declared by the government. Also, non-governmental bodies don't have to fly their flags according to code. (Few do, going by the letters)

posted by Adept at 04:24 PM on December 29

I think it would have been better if the Packers had lowered the TEAM flag to half-staff. No one gets offended it and reflects the nature of his contribution (team, community).

posted by grum@work at 05:30 PM on December 29

From the article: White, 43, played for the Packers from 1993-98. The former Tennessee star was a 13-time Pro Bowler, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the league's 75th anniversary team. That's nice. Now, my dad, who died last spring, was a veteran of two wars. Who would you say is more meriting of the half-staff treatment? A soldier, or a guy who played a game for money?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:03 PM on December 29

When I die, I want the flag at the end of each Super Mario Bros level lowered to half-mast. No wait, I want my corpse flown at half mast at the local post office. People take flags too seriously sometimes.

posted by Samsonov14 at 07:07 PM on December 29

People take flags too seriously sometimes. How could we possibly, when they're going up and down for every Tom, Dick and Harry?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:00 PM on December 29

Local tributes like the one for White are common. Too much has made of this non-issue. I am a vet, but I am also aware that there are times when an honor like "half staff" would be appropriate for a public figure. Keep in mind that solders and vets are entitled to one tribute that most wont have--ie a flag draped on their coffin. That my friends, is the ultimate tribute! people should just lighten up. Remember Reggie for what he was!

posted by daddisamm at 08:02 PM on December 29

Remember Reggie for what he was! A great football player. That's it. My father was a great engineer. When I was younger I was a pretty good hamburger flipper. Just because he was paid more than me or my dad or the local garbage man doesn't mean they deserve the flag lowered. And I'm not one to takes the whole flag issue like the rules were handed down by god, but this is just a little silly. The team flag idea was a great one. Maybe the state flag. Lots of better choices. Christ, I think the Mason-Dixon line shifted 10 toward the equator when Dale Ernhardt died. No, the south doesn't have a lock on stupid. Nor prejudice.

posted by justgary at 09:22 PM on December 29

To the people who have a problem with this flag thing...Don't like it? Don't look at it...Don't think about it. My condolences to his family, friends and fans.

posted by teej at 12:57 AM on December 30

Some American's get far to worked up about a stupid piece of colored cloth. To paraphrase the late great Bill Hicks "My Daddy died for that flag!" "Really? I got mine for $5 at K-Mart."

posted by Drood at 01:11 AM on December 30

daddisam, teej and Drood: so you believe, in essence, that lowering the flag when someone dies is a worthless and meaningless gesture -- is that it? Hence the calls to lighten up and whatnot -- because it's no big deal, right? Because either the gesture is worth something and means something, or it doesn't. If it does, then it should be properly reserved for those occasions for which it was intended. If it doesn't, then nobody should mind if the worthless and meaningless gesture isn't made for a deceased football player. Either way, your call...

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:55 AM on December 30

lil_brown_bat heads into left field, looking for the easy catch... her head is up... almost there... and it bounces out of the glove. Can you believe that ladies and gentlemen?

posted by Samsonov14 at 07:11 AM on December 30

Exactly, LBB. It either matters or it doesn't. And if it matters as a symbol of national mourning, maybe we should reserve it for national public figures. Because it is so rare, I always find it moving when a death such as Reagan's brings the nation's flags, as one, to half-staff. There aren't a lot of things about this country that bring us together in one voice, especially in these fractious times. I think we should pass on this particular tradition, not allow it to become individualized and ordinary.

posted by rcade at 07:25 AM on December 30

To the people who have a problem with this flag thing...Don't like it? Don't look at it...Don't think about it. That's retard logic. We have this thing called "society" where everyone's actions affect everyone else.

posted by molafson at 07:33 AM on December 30

If it makes you sad, and if it made a difference in your life, fly your flag however you wish.

posted by Samsonov14 at 07:52 AM on December 30

I like grum's idea. I'm pretty sure I was going to vote him president or maybe it was commissioner of the NHL, but now I'm thinking that Mayor of Green Bay has a nice ring to it.

posted by 86 at 08:05 AM on December 30

The whole flag code seems un-American. Freedom of expression would seem to dictate that the flag can be flown however anyone wants to fly it. It is the flag that represents every American -- not just those Americans who were national public figures.

posted by bperk at 08:32 AM on December 30

First, I can see how people might think it trivializes the symbol of a half mast flag. Secondly, I can see how the people in Green Bay would want to do this for someone they appreciated. I bet all of this crap would have pissed Reggie off.

posted by jasonspaceman at 08:41 AM on December 30

'Roid rage, no doubt.

posted by yerfatma at 08:52 AM on December 30

You damn right, jason. Testify.

posted by Reggie White's Ghost at 09:02 AM on December 30

The established code limits half-staff treatment to the deaths of prominent national public figures like Ronald Reagan. what about for firefighters and police officers? there always seems to be a flag at half-staff at some firehouse in the area. the one at the municipal building in town has been lowered for a month now, i have no clue who for though. the code doesn't seem to mention anything about public servants. is it disrespectful to lower it for them as well?

posted by goddam at 09:09 AM on December 30

I'm still going to burn Packers flags no matter what you say. And I thought Harlan came across much more asshole-ish in this article regarding the flag issue.

posted by chris2sy at 10:46 AM on December 30

Oops, I guess he had the same quotes in both articles...don't know why I didn't catch it in that first one???

posted by chris2sy at 10:49 AM on December 30

the only football player that deserves a flag at half staff is pat tillman. period. reggie was a great player, but thats just it, he got rich from playing a damn game. cmon.

posted by curlyelk at 03:03 PM on December 30

It's one flag in one place my father, uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather were vets they and all of their friends had no problem with what the packers did

posted by cheerchick at 09:32 PM on December 30

And since they approve, that makes it like, totally okay. It's a question of appropriateness. Is it appropriate to wear short shorts and a tube top to work? Or a wife-beater and ripped-up denim jeans? My father certainly doesn't have a problem with that, but that doesn't make it okay.

posted by rocketman at 09:45 PM on December 30

rocketman, your straw man is free to wear whatever he wants to work. Is the flag worth more than just $5 at K-Mart? Perhaps, but the actual piece of cloth itself doesn't hold any special value. It's the level of respect it's afforded and the freedoms it represents that matter. The people of Green Bay (or the Packers organization, or some combination of the two) thought so much of Reggie White that they lowered a couple of flags in a significant show of respect for him. That's not demeaning the flag. That's exalting Reggie White. The flag represents the people; not the government, and not the armed forces. If someone becomes a folk hero of any kind, I honestly don't see what the problem is with the people in a free society (work with me here) expressing their grief in some kind of unified and semi-official way. The soldiers didn't fight for the flag itself. They fought for freedom, whatever that meant to each of them. No one's burying Reggie White under the Lincoln memorial. Like Chris Rock says, school gonna be open on his birthday. The American Flag itself is a piece of cloth. Its use should bestow respect, sure, but every flag doesn't belong under glass or always at full staff unless a President dies. (Maybe seeing NYC cab drivers with 800000000 flags all over their windshields and antennas has disabused me of the notion that the flag is any more than a corporate logo for USA inc., but what they're doing for Reggie White is possibly the most benign violation of the Flag Act I've seen in years.)

posted by chicobangs at 01:42 AM on December 31

I'm pretty sure there were flags at half-mast all over the place during the 9/11 memorials. No principle figures of the United States government or Governors of a state were killed in the attacks, so the flags shouldn't have been at half-mast. Did the people who complained about the R.White tribute, complain about those tributes? I'm betting that they didn't, so excuse me while I clear my throat. *cough*hypocrites*cough*

posted by grum@work at 01:45 AM on December 31

I'm pretty sure there were flags at half-mast all over the place during the 9/11 memorials. Seems to me that several comments here are of the "they did it then so why not now" variety, which is very weak. It's either right or wrong, and if it's wrong this time, it simply means it was wrong last time also. Did the people who complained about the R.White tribute, complain about those tributes? I'm betting that they didn't, so excuse me while I clear my throat. *cough*hypocrites*cough* Not saying you're right or wrong, but surely you can see the differences in your comparison. So obvious and drastic that it's almost comical.

posted by justgary at 04:10 AM on December 31

... I honestly don't see what the problem is with the people in a free society (work with me here) expressing their grief in some kind of unified and semi-official way. The argument loses me at the word "unified." The "if it feels bad, do it" rule for lowering the flag wouldn't be unified at all -- any entity that wanted to note any death would lower its flags. Human nature being what it is, the absence of a half-staff flag would be perceived as a slight. How could the Cowboys leave their flags flying at full-staff after the death of Mark Tuinei! If that becomes the norm, wouldn't it cheapen the symbolic gesture of lowering the flags to mourn a national figure (or in the case of 9/11, national tragedy)?

posted by rcade at 08:44 AM on December 31

rcade: Nope. The Tuinei household (and the Cowboys facility, and the Mark Tuinei Center or wherever he might have had an influence) should be free to lower their flags in a show of respect for the guy. Why not? If Reggie White was popular across the city of Green Bay, then there shouldn't be a problem with the people of Green Bay, or Philadelphia, or his hometown or wherever, performing this gesture. One of the tenets on which the USA was built is that all men are created equal. (Stop laughing, they haven't erased that bit yet.) The flags aren't going down around the world, just where White actually had his greatest social effect. For them to lower their flags to half mast doesn't cheapen the act of lowering the flags. Quite the contrary. It's merely performing the gesture properly, for the reasons it was originally supposed to be done. One other thing: I would bet if you walk through Green Bay, many flags won't be at half mast. My guess is that many of those people aren't dissing Reggie White, nor are they any more patriotic or anything than those who did. No one is holding a gun to anyone's head here. Also: Mark Tuinei's dead? Damn!

posted by chicobangs at 09:26 AM on December 31

Not saying you're right or wrong, but surely you can see the differences in your comparison. So obvious and drastic that it's almost comical. What I'm commenting on is that some people feel the need to be absolutely strict about when the half-mast flag should be used, but in the end really aren't that strict. If a local community wants to honour someone by lowering their flags, I can't see how it can be considered a bad thing. It's not like EVERY flag in the union was lowered to half-mast for Reggie White, just some local ones. To chastize them for doing so, and trying to use strict tradition to make a point when there have been many obvious "violations" of strict tradition before, seems hypocritical to me. It's like saying "The rules must not be broken, ever! Except when, you know, I think they should be broken. And since I don't care about the person in this case, they should not be broken!" Pat Tillman = okay to break rules Reggie White = not okay to break rules? 9/11 victims = okay to break rules next mass death occurrance = not okay to break rules?

posted by grum@work at 09:27 AM on December 31

How can you even put Tillman and White in the same list as the 9/11 tragedy? That's completely unhinged.

posted by rcade at 10:04 AM on December 31

Incidentally, 9/11 wasn't an exception to the Flag Code. The president can order them to be lowered, and he did for the next 11 days.

posted by rcade at 10:51 AM on December 31

How can you even put Tillman and White in the same list as the 9/11 tragedy? That's completely unhinged. I'm not saying they are at the same level tragedy, and find it fascinating that someone would honestly think I'm implying they are of the same magnitude of grief. It seems like an obvious attempt to belittle my arguments to make that assumption, and I didn't expect that sort of ploy from you, rcade. (You see what I did there? I took a comment from someone and blew it way out of proportion. It doesn't strengthen my argument in any way, but attempts to lessen his position by throwing up a distraction. BTW, I'm not really upset with rcade, and I don't really believe he thinks I'm "unhinged".) I'm saying that in terms of flags-at-half-mast-requirements, none of them met those as stated in the main post. So in those terms, yes, they are on the same "list". Incidentally, 9/11 wasn't an exception to the Flag Code. The president can order them to be lowered, and he did for the next 11 days. And I stand corrected on the matter of 9/11 and flags. Did the President make the same request when Tillman died? Do small towns need Presidential permission to lower their flags to half-mast when a local soldier dies in a war, or when a bus flips over and kills some school children? I think it's ridiculous that a well-known and honoured form of grief and respect has to be mandated.

posted by grum@work at 01:38 PM on December 31

Tillman was not a violation of the flag code either, since he died wearing his uniform in the service of our country.

posted by billsaysthis at 01:38 PM on December 31

I enjoyed your aside, grum. I was only attempting to suggest that your analogy was unhinged. You are definitely hinged. Is the Fourth of July less meaningful because it is a nationally mandated celebration of independence? Personally, I like the fact that we voluntarily cede authority over our flagpoles and allow the president to control them as if by telekinesis.

posted by rcade at 02:18 PM on December 31

Tillman was not a violation of the flag code either, since he died wearing his uniform in the service of our country. I couldn't find anything that says the death of soldiers allows for half-mast/staff flag flying. According to the rules (from the link in the main post): By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff. The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of the President or a former President; ten days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. Personally, I like the fact that we voluntarily cede authority over our flagpoles and allow the president to control them as if by telekinesis. See, if your President actually DID use telekinesis to move the flags up and down, then I think you've got a case.

posted by grum@work at 02:26 PM on December 31

rocketman, your straw man is free to wear whatever he wants to work. Jock straps and combat boots! Huzzah!

posted by rocketman at 06:13 PM on December 31

i think white was a good player and person. the packers were right to lower the flags to honor him. besides what does it matter were the flag is on some pole?

posted by pack_man at 12:32 AM on January 01

President Bush just signed a proclamation calling on flags to be flown half staff next week in mourning for the victims of the tsunami.

posted by rcade at 09:36 AM on January 01

Presdential authority in terms of flag activity is simply political in most cases and SOP in others. I don't see how the people of Green Bay have jeopardized that in the slightest. In fact, I think it's far more special and a fitting tribute to what the flag stands for when it falls outside of those guidlines, as with the tsunami reaction.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:42 PM on January 01

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